Monday, 4 November 2013

What is going on on the old left?

The old left is going through a bit of a transition right now to what and where it will end who knows but there is a crisis that is sweeping the far left right now. Mostly Leninist and Trotskyist parties but can be found elsewhere too. It is a realization that much of what they have been saying while many of them believe what they are saying is just not caching a echo with workers and none despite the biggest and gravest economic crisis since the 30's are barely treading water and in many case's loosing members and stagnating . I do think there are systemic roots for this problem on the left. Having left the socialist party one of the better Trotskyist parties out there over a month ago I have seen a few too many incidents of some very unsavory nature to be honest. I have witnessed and read about some of the worst forms of human behavior over the last year with the cover up of the rape case with Comrade Delta in the SWP to bullying and harassment from others on the left. The latest falling out comes from the AWL - Alliance for workers liberty. A smaller group than the two bigger forces on the Trotskyist left the SWP and the SP. But the sense of party crisis has not escaped the AWL either it would seem. "...In the ensuing “debate” only two members – myself and Hannah Thompson – raised any criticism of the article. It is unclear as to whether this was because those who were critical of the article were not called to speak or whether they chose not to, but the debate was primarily used to denounce and attack critics and to rally support for the leadership. In one incredible contribution, members were told that is was not even necessary to even read the offending article before springing to its defense. Any critical, or thinking, approach was actually “disloyal” to the group. Moreover, it was even wrong to post their grievances to the internal list. We were asked to show solidarity with poor Sean and told that the Executive Committee’s public response was a defense of us all. Many of the arguments made in that debate are now being rolled out across the internet and in real life in a feeble damage limitation exercise..." This rings very familiar to myself who has always tried to think critically and keeping a balanced approach to things was called all sorts and charged with being "disloyal" while still a member of the socialist party I was ticked off several times for not taking my disagreements if you could call them that and points of misunderstanding as I’d prefer to call them up with others in the party. When I did as I maintain I did all is it not always in a official capacity due to my lack of confidence in public situations and public speaking I felt contacting individuals and speaking to them in what I thought was confidence would help. It later turned out any misunderstanding or disagreement as I was told they were in the end was not held in confidence at all and allot of what I said about my concerns with the party were relayed back to my region and beyond in some case's which I found to be a breaking of my trust. I think there is one thing being a open party but another to go tell your senior every time someone has a issue I felt like I could not trust very many people in the party in the end and allot of people were out to catch me out and find me guilty of being disloyal and not pulling the party line so to speak. It really did feel very 1984 at times where I would receive a sharply toned email warning me not to put my thoughts and feelings out on my blog and on social media. I replied each time saying I did not know the party had control of my blog and what I personally felt. But apparently while I was a member my personal blog represented the party despite me constantly stating this blog is my own and nothing to do with the socialist party and is the thoughts independent of the party and do in no way represent the parties party's views. Are personal views to be frowned upon on the Trotskyist left? It would certainly seem so in my experience. But this distrust of those with a critical mind is quite co common on the left I have now realized many groups have seen a decline in membership despite what they officially will tell you. Why would a party admit its lost members it doesn’t do its street cred any good does it? But we know for a fact members come and go all the time and on the left some groups have a very high turnover of members. In the SWP for example they estimate to have over 7000 members but no one surely believes this figure? I understand you are considered a member in the SWP if you have signed a petition or brought a paper sub paying doesn’t seem to be that important. I do think the internet is something the old left has yet to come to terms with and does not know how to deal with it. It is something that is out of their control. I think that is the nub of it really the control and the lack of being able to control what members say to each other on the internet. The old left had a way of organising and working that they kept everything internal and in meetings but with the addition of the internet this is no longer possible and I feel there will be more and more tensions with party members of all groups as people realise they can think and discuss with each other online and that discussion doesn’t have to be just limited to the holy branch meeting. I think personally it shows a lack of confidence on the behalf of the old left to not wish to discuss and debate its differences out in public view of the working class. It’s pretty patronizing I think as it says that the working class are not intelligent enough to understand the debates and discussions and only we as the chosen Marxists can understand which for me is hugely insulting and shows a lack of confidence in their own ideas and also a lack of confidence in the working class to act and think for themselves and of course the old left do not wish the working class to act and think for itself it must be lead to the promised land of socialism. There is much wrong with the old left and allot of its modes of organisation and methods of interacting are out of date but this can change and may well do in time. The working class is constantly changing and is far more fluid in its work situation. With the unemployed and those in and out of work a lot it will be harder and harder for work place organising even for unions as I’ve previously explained. New ways of organising and thinking will be necessary. Can the old left adapt to the new situations coming? Only time will tell.

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